Bryan McRobert’s delightful 2014 Steen
10 June 2016
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Jenny Crwys – Williams : We’re talking about the second weekend in June and chatting to Angela Lloyd and the wine is Bryan McRobert Steen and 2014, it’s R180 a bottle. Angela, for the second weekend in June and the weather does close in, doesn’t it?
I mean when I was down in the Cape in May towards the middle of May I saw those clouds coming in. I thought oh, the weather, the weather and hopefully the Cape gets lots and lots of rain but it can also be very cold.
Angela Lloyd: Well hopefully we will get a lot of rain. Now I’ve chosen this because Brian McRobert is not a name that’s very well known. He worked for a time quite a while with Eben Sadie who of course is a very well-known name.
But he, like many assistant winemakers these days, did his own bit of moonlighting and made some wonderful wines called Tobias. A white and a red. But now he’s out on his own. He makes wine in Spain as well as here. In fact, he’s engaged to a Spanish lady and this wine, his Steen, which is Chenin Blanc, by the old name that we used to call it, Steen. I think there’s going to be a return to that name.
The return of Steen
JCW: Why do you say that?
AL: One or two people are using it. I mean it’s a name, when I first started drinking wine when I came here, was much more commonly used than Chenin Blanc. I think because Chenin Blanc is associated with its homeland in the Loire of France, that it was dropped, Steen was dropped. But now it’s coming back because people feel it’s more authentic South African.
Now this is a very much more sophisticated wine that Miles Mossop’s that we spoke about last weekend and it’s got a lot of ageing potential. It’s from a very old block of vines near Malmesbury, which is where Brian takes all his fruit from. He ferments it naturally.
In other words, he doesn’t inoculate it with yeast in large oak, 600 litres, and just a portion new. So it’s not smothered in oak but it’s a very intense, tight wine, lots of flavour. Not overtly Steen or Chenin but it will develop beautifully with age.
I think it’s going to do better with food at the moment. I can even imagine it going with a nice lamb dish. It doesn’t have to be fish. White wine and fish, red wine and meat is an old thing nowadays. Our white wines have got so much depth and flavour that they can go beautifully with red meat as well.
Could you pair a Steen with roast lamb?
JCW: Would you do it with roast lamb, for instance?
AL: It could well go with roast lamb with herbs, definitely I would say so. It’s not big in alcohol, again it’s about 13%. But it needs food to sort of bring it out. Something you know, like the flavour in lamb, which is a lovely sweetish flavour. It’ll bring out the flavour of the wine as well.
JCW: Sounds lovely and very different as well.
AL: Yes, but I would also be inclined to keep this wine for a good five or six years.
JCW: Again, the temperature question comes up. I don’t want to have a freezing wine.
AL: No, I would say this needs to be served about 13, 14 maybe, but it all depends on the ambient temperature too. Room temperature is such a misnomer. It’s the ambient temperature that you feel, like it is on a really cold day, it’s probably better to have it a little warmer, otherwise again the flavours will be killed.
JCW: Angela, thank you for that.